Womenin Architecture have always been the minority. The divide between men and womenin the architectural community has created a male dominant industry; creatingsexual discrimination, harassment, bullying, etc. A study, conducted in theUnited States, was posted in The Architectural Review which states that approximatelyhalf of architectural graduates are women; yet, only 18% of women decide toobtain an architectural license (Tether). Although women face discrimination today,the obstacles to become an architect were far greater throughout architecturalhistory. As we date further back into history, fewer womenwere in the professional world.
Thankfully, for women like JuliaMorgan, the pursuit towards architecture became an arm’s reach away. In thisresearch paper, I will discuss Julia Morgan’s early life, career, and legacyshe left for women in San Francisco.EARLYLIFEJuliaMorgan was born on January 20th in 1872. In her early life, she was always the odd girl out; she was drawn to hereducation and she put it before everything else. She was inspired by her uncle,the architect Pierre Le Bron, to pursue a higher education.
Her persistencetowards education led her to crave a profession degree. Despiteher mother’s disapproval, Julia Morgan attended the University of California toget her degree in civil engineering. After 4 long years,sheJulia Morgan graduated with a Bachelorof Science in the spring of 1894, and was the only woman to graduate from theCollege of Engineering that year. With the support of her professor, BernardMaybeck, she decided to move to Paris to attend the finest architectural schoolin the world, Ecole des Beaux-Arts. When she applied, theschool tried everything they could to prevent her admission. Aftergetting denied twicetwo attempts,she finally was admitted on her third attempt when she was ranked 13thfrom more than three hundred applicants. Julia Morgan madehistory by becomingtry. She becamethe first women to attend Ecole des Beauz-Arts and receive a certificate inarchitecture.
Through her phenomenal education in Paris, she decided to moveback to California to pursue a career in architectural design. She began towork alongside the architect John Galen Howard, who was the supervisingarchitect of the University of California’s Master Plan. This was one ofJulia’s earliest involvement in architectural designs; she worked on drawingsthat showed different elevation and ornamental details for the Mining Buildingon campus. Despite the amazing opportunity, Julia Morgan opened her own privatearchitectural office in 1904. She became the first female architect to belicensed by the state of California.
CAREEROneof her first projects, as an independent architect, was in Oakland California inMills College. When Julia Morgan was commissioned, she was asked to create atower sturdy enough to withhold ten giant bells that had a combined weight ofone ton. Thus, her first development on campus was the bell tower named, ElCampanil. The bells hang on seven different twin windows under a round arched, andthey all surround the centered campus clock. There are three horizontallyaligned windows that are directly above the clock and each of them has twobells. The clock is placed on the upper part of the tower and it has one windowon both sides of it; the windows next to the clock have one bell each. Lastly, thetwo windows underneath the clock are vertically aligned and each of them holdsone bell.
The largest- and heaviest- bell is located on the lowest window ofthe tower. The slope of the roof is slight and has only one central ridge. Theroofing has orange cement Spanish style tile. The building itself is afive-story tower made out of beige concrete, and the bells are a faded black. Aftera successful and beautiful completion, the administration offered her fiveother projects across campus, this included: The Margaret Carnegie Library,Alderwood Hall, The Student Union, Kapiolani Cottage, and the originalgymnasium/pool.
When the bell towerwithheld the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906, her reputation grew;thus, the sturdy structure brought Julia Morgan new clientele in residential andcommercial reconstruction. During this era, Julia Morgan was considered on ofthe top architectural designers in California. Julia Morgan became the architect for many femaleempowering organizations in California, because she was a sophisticated womanthat had a diploma from one of the worlds most respected architecturalinstitutions. Soon after the Mill’s projects was completed, the Young Women’sChristian Association (YWCA) offered her a chance to build over thirtydifferent structures around the United States. Out of the six structures, themost iconic one is considered to be the one located in Oakland California.
Thebuilding was designed in 1913 and was completed in 1915 with a classicalItalian design. The building consists of four floors, and has a combination of rectangularand arched windows. The inside of the building has grand rooms with woodenfloors and high ceilings. As the architect, Julia Morgan thought it wasimportant to create an environment that was comfortable for women to gather. JuliaMorgan intentionally designed the building with natural, earthy tones andmaterials; she believed it would help evoke intellectual conversations amongstthe women of YWCA.
Years later, the YWCA had to sell the building due to the financialmaintenance; however, the building is protected by the National Register ofHistoric Places and it now stands as the Envision Academy of Art. Renovationsof the building took place on May 24th, 1977, however the vintagerenovation was only done to restore architectural damages suffered after theLoma Preita earthquake. It was important to the Nation Register of HistoricPlaces to preserve the timeless architectural designs Julia Morgan had created. In San Francisco, she ismost noted for her Mediterranean revival design of The Hearst Castle. Thecastle was built between 1919 and 1947; the huge project took a total of 28years of her architectural career.
She was commissioned by a man named WilliamRandolph Hearst; ironically, he told her he wanted a “quaint cottage” for hisfamily. The castle has a total of 165 rooms and 123 acers of land that consistof: 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, a movie theater, an airfield,and the world’s largest private zoo. On site, “Morgan supervised nearly everyaspect of construction at the Hearst Castle including the purchase ofeverything from Spanish antiquities to Icelandic moss to reindeer for theCastle’s zoo” (California State Park).
Therefore, it is reasonable to statethat Morgan designed the majority of the project in precise detail. Thearchitectural designs throughout the castle vary, however each room containsvibrant color of artworks and architectural features. A few of the most notablestructures of the Hearst Castle include the pools, and wine cellar. The first,of the two pools, was named the Neptune Pool. It was designed with a templelike structure that included statues and columns; it is located outside of theHearts Castle and it took about twelveyears to complete. The pool is 3-5 feet on the west end, and 10 feet in thedeep end; it holds about 345 thousand gallons of water, however it is currentlyempty due to restoration. The second pool was named the Roman Pool. The RomanPool is an indoor pool that is completely tiled.
It was designed to simulate anancient Roman bath.One-inch mosaic tiles, called smalti, fill the room from top to bottom; itincludes vibrant blues, golds, and oranges that created an iconic look. “Themosaic tiled patterns were inspired by mosaics found in the 5th CenturyMausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy. They are also representative oftraditional marine monster themes that can be found in ancient Roman baths” (CaliforniaState Park). The Roma Pool is located in a separate building from the castle,and in the building, it has: an exercise room, sweat baths, a handball court,and dressing rooms.
There is a total of eight marble statues that are inspired byGreek and Roman designs throughout the pool area. The wine cellar of the castleconsists of two rooms that are conjoined by a double vaulted door. It was builtto prevent fire and theft. The cellar was not architecturally extravagant; however,it is notablebecause of the size and amount of wine it held. Unfortunately, Hearst died fouryears after his castle was completed; however, the building now serves as ahistoric landmark in San Simeon California.
Despite the castle being in a ruralarea, the beauty of the architectural design attracts tourist from all over theworld. The Hearst Castle is an estimated worth of 195 million dollars. Julia Morganbecame Mrs.
Hearst principle architects; she continued to design dozens ofstructures such as: Bavarian Village, and Babicora Ranch. Through the HearstProjects, she gained wealthy clienteles.Despiteher iconic work Julia Morgan didn’t like any platforms. It was extremely rarefor her to give any interviews, therefore not much is known about her personalprivate life. Yet, Julia Morgan was known for devoting her life to her career,in fact it wasn’t unusual for her to work 18 hours a day. She decided to retirein the year 1951 at the age of 79. Before her retirement, Morgan had designedover 700 buildings throughout California. Throughout her architectural career,her architectural designs always depended on the client; thus, herarchitectural style varied depending on who commissioned her.
One of the mainconsistent trends throughout her work was truth to material; she believed thatan architectural design could only be fully functional if the materials usedwere for their intended purpose. I believe Lada Kocherovsky said it best, “Thebrilliance of Julia Morgan is that the buildings feel natural and fitting withthe environment.” On February 2, 1957, she was announced dead from old age.LEGACYSHE LEFT FOR WOMEN IN SAN FRANCISO Julia was an open advocate on opportunities for women, infact about one third of the all designs she made were associated withorganizations, or colleges, devoted to women. Her work towards women did not gounnoticed, in fact she now has an all-girls school devoted to her which is named,”Julia Morgan, School for Girls”. The middle school is the first and onlyschool devoted to girls in the East Bay. It is located on Mills College, in abuilding Julia Morgan designed. The school is founded on making equal opportunitiesfor young women.
According to the American Association of University Women,”curricula continue to reflect inequities, as materials by and about womenremain peripheral, and teaching approaches continue to favor predominantly maleinteractional styles. Girls’ self-esteem and confidence in their competence,particularly with regard to math and science, drop precipitously during theirmiddle school years, narrowing their later choices of course work and careerpath” ( Thus, Julia Morgan’s’ educational struggle and accomplishments was anexcellent role model for young women pursuing a professional career. Only seven gold medals from American institute of Architectshave been granted to architects in California since 1907. First women in AIAaward Her achievements she overcame as a women CONCLUSION Throughout my research, it was clearshe was a role model for young women pursuing a professional degree. Withlittle support around her, she still able to accomplish extraordinaryachievements. Although the architectural industry needs adjustment in women’sroles, architects like Julia Morgan have slowly created opportunity for womenpursuing architecture.
She has created a legacy through her buildings thatexemplify outstanding architectural advancements